So long, and thanks for all the mates

So it has come down to this. Just a few weeks left of what has been five years. Five crazy and unforgettable  years at Wits University. I have loved them all.
I came to Wits in 2007. I thought I was the business. I thought I knew it all and if I could go back in time I’d tell that pink Polo-shirt wearing young nobody with the flowing highlighted locks to slow down and enjoy every second because looking back I wonder where the time went.
I studied law in my first year, hated it, changed to psychology, realised I have my own problems and abandoned all aspirations of becoming a famous psychoanalyst and switched to English where I discovered my love for writing. I guess journalism is a fitting way to finish.
I have made friends I will never forget. I participated in events  I can only vaguely remember (the Mampoer Tour of ’09 sticks out), and others  I will never forget.
I immersed myself in everything that was Wits. I made friends with people from all areas of study (yes, even those on West Campus), I represented Wits cricket proudly (although not very well), and spent many a lunch break improving my skills at the basketball courts.
I became involved in the greatest society at Wits, the Silly Buggers, who I will always be thankful to for my increased alcohol tolerance.
I became an ambassador for the mighty pink Human-a-Titties, an entity that became a force of nature. Seriously, if you haven’t heard of us where have you been?
I find myself getting nostalgic in the closing moments of my studies, but if I could go back I would not change a thing.
These are the best years of our lives. Don’t spend them waiting for the future.
Enjoy these times. They are beautifully chaotic and I wouldn’t want them any other way.

Powerful Engineers forwards dominant in victory

GLORY BOYS: An Engineers forrd brushes off a would-be-tackler. The Engineers were physical and the forwards provided the perfect platform to play knockouts rugby

Retribution for the winners. Bitter agony for the losers. But there can be no doubt the better team won.

The Steinhoff Engineers wrested back the inter-faculty rugby title from rivals the Steinhoff Humanities Titans after they won 20-0 in a physical encounter on Wednesday night.


The game was always going to be a tight affair, with the score line not quite reflecting how close the game was in the first half, with the key focus on which team could muscle up front with the forwards. The Titans’ strength lies with their backline play, and the Engineers went out with a game plan to restrict them.

It worked.They hit every tackle like men possessed and kept the game tight. The Titans could not get the go-forward ball that any backline needs.


At half-time there were a few walking wounded as both teams went into the break level without having scored any points.
When play resumed the Titans looked out-of-sorts and the Engineers began imposing themselves physically.

Their tight five laid a solid foundation with Jethro Garrett putting in a man-of-the-match performance. The highlight was a superb solo try, which included a side step that any outside centre would be proud of. Engineers raced to a 10-0 lead and the Titans had no answer.


Another try, set up by a brilliant cross field kick by Jacob Tripp put the game beyond doubt. The Titans tried to claw their way back with an apparent disregard for their own bodies but the Engineers defence held firm.


Richard Leaver, captain of the Titans, was philosophical in defeat. “We still have mates, we still have rugby, we still have dozzle, we still have each other.”


The Titans character has been their strongest weapon throughout the season, but the team that won did so through hard work and a structured game plan.


“We absolutely killed ourselves for this,” added Tripp, clutching the trophy. “We worked so hard and we definitely deserve this.”


The Engineers and Titans have cemented their position as the two most dominant teams on campus. On the evidence of the season, any challenges will have to be at their best to stand a chance of knocking these two monoliths off their perch.

Wits Cricket addresses player depth issue

In sport, any sport, there are those who excel and those that struggle. Ferrari and Barcelona are not in the same league as Lotus and Derby County.


But then there are those that are nearly there. Those teams that are too good for the minnows, but not good enough for the big time.


In the Gauteng Club Cricket league, Wits University is one of those teams.


However, things are slowly changing for the men in blue. A new coach has been appointed, senior players have left, leaving the door open for hungry replacements, and the energy around the club has a sense of new beginnings.


There are challenges and issues that need to be addressed before Wits can return to the glory days. Depth of talent is a problem, with many of the bigger clubs like Old Eds and Glenvista attracting young players.


To address this, Wits has launched a 20/20 inter schools knockout tournament featuring some of the top schools in the city.


Marius Henn, a senior sports administrator at Wits  feels the university has not done enough to promote themselves amongst pupils and recruit cricket talent from high schools.


“We cannot compete financially with other universities in the area to attract top notch athletes; however we need to make the schools aware that we also provide sport here with top facilities.”


With the chance to play on a top class field (the International Cricket Council has hosted international matches on the Walter Milton Oval) these school boys will get to experience firsthand what Wits cricket can offer.


Teams included feature Jeppe High, St John’s College and Parktown High.
The final will take place at Wits on 20 September 2011.


An invitational side will be selected at the end of the competition, which will play against the Wits first cricket side at a future date still to be determined.

The Stella’s score one for independence

RECORD labels are often depicted as evil galactic empires of the music business. Their executives wear suits and live in caves coveting the one ring of power which they use to dictate terms to helpless musicians who loathe as well as need their overlords.

The sad news is that most bands need record labels, they  help them. Bands can take the risk and remain independent, but years of brilliant obscurity are often worse than years of successful mediocrity.

There is good news however for all the little guys. One band chose to go independent and broke all the rules by climbing up to number 4 on MK’s Top 10, with their single Get Going ahead of established acts such as  Zebra and Giraffe and Seether. That band is The Stella’s.

Led by the enigmatic and energetic Stuey Sleaze on vocals and rhythm, powered by face-melting solos from Jim Hazard on a solid foundation provided by Pano Roller on bass and Ben Eagle on drums, this band is making all the right noises on their own terms.

Described as a “bunch of pirates after your women and whiskey”, this band not only sounds the part, but looks the part too, with long hair, tattoos and a ‘rock n roll’ image.

But Hazard insists it’s all about the music. “Our lifestyle informs our subject matter and the way we look and act is just another part of what makes us unique and in a way complements our sound.”

Style and image is an obvious form of self-expression and the freedom that the band has, as a result of being independent, allows them to express themselves musically as well.

“We have complete creative control of our music, just as anyone does when they have independence in any form of life,” says Roller. “When you have that freedom, you can be honest with yourself and those around you, and honesty leads to good music.”

Photo: Courtesy The Stella's

With a mix of classic and psychedelic rock, and a touch of pop sensibilities, on a foundation of blues and punk, The Stella’s are definitely a band to look out for. Playing alongside The Tidal Waves and Cortina Whiplash is a sign of where this band is going, and that is independently to the top, clad in skinny jeans and long hair.

Deja vu as old foes go head to head

THE WITS internal rugby final will once again be contested between reigning champions, the Humanities Titans, and last season’s runners-up, the Engineers, on Wednesday, September 7.


Both teams won their respective semi-finals.


The Titans edged out Medics in a close game by a score of 15 points to 12, returning to winning ways at just the right time after two losses in a row.


The Engineers had a much easier time against their opponents, thrashing Commerce 52-7.


The Engineers will be very confident with their form going into the final after finishing top of the log after the super six stage, as well as beating their final opponents two weeks ago.


Engineers had the meanest defence during the last round of fixtures and will be hoping to keep the free flowing backline of the Titans at bay. As history has shown, a strong defence is key to winning any knockout game, as the Boks and the Bulls have shown in past seasons.
Front rower Neil Nelson from the Engineers is not taking anything for granted:“It’s going to be a tough game, but the two most deserving teams are definitely in the final,” he said. “Obviously I back the Engineers but the Titans are a good team with a lot of talented players, but so are we.”
Titans loose forward Zander Venter echoes Nelson’s sentiments, and knows that his team will have to be at their best to defend their crown.

“I think there is no longer a firm favourite going into the final. It’s going to be a hard-fought physical encounter and the team with the most heart will win.”
However, as Venter explains, it takes more than strategy and technique to win games such as these; it also requires that bit of magic that comes through when the game is played for the right reasons.


“Titans play for the fun of the game with all heart and no practice,” said Venter. “That’s our winning formula. The philosophy of champions.”


Unlike last season, the Titans are going into this game at the very least on an equal footing, and could even be seen as underdogs given recent form.


This may play into the hands of the reigning champs but they will know that Engineers will be desperate to get the trophy that they relinquished to their bitter rivals last season.

No sex for NZ rugby fans

Some fans will do anything to ensure their team wins the rugby World Cup. Fans in Scotland sit through blistering cold and stinging rain. Australians publicly embarrass themselves by singing Waltzing Matilda. It seems, however, that New Zealand fans might go the extra mile to shake the ‘chokers’ tag that has plagued them since their last triumph in 1987 by abstaining from sex.

In a campaign led by former All Black skipper Sean Fitzpatrick, fans are encouraged to “touch, pause, but not engage” with men encouraged to “think of their mums in bikinis”, which Fitzpatrick believes will aid the All Blacks with positive energy.

Fans will be given black rubber rings to wear for the duration of the tournament which lasts seven weeks.

 Understandably, the campaign has not been well received. A poll on New Zealand Herald online asking fans if they would forego sex during the tournament attracted almost 10,000 votes, with 92% responding: “No, are you kidding?”

Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper added his opinion on Twitter by posting “French coach once said; sex before a game doesn’t hurt performance, it’s the hours of pleading to get sex that hurts.”

So how far would you go to ensure Springbok success in the land of the long white cloud? With Peter de Villiers’s team struggling with consistency, hampered by a one-dimensional game plan, carried out by an aging squad, perhaps abstaining for a month and a half would not be the worst idea.

 With the World Cup a mere 15 days away, preparations and planning are in the final stages. All we as fans can do now is wish our boys luck and send them our thoughts. I for one would love a Springbok victory, and would definitely have to pause for thought when considering abstaining. It would certainly be a lot easier than watching the Ard Matthews rendition of our anthem one more time. 

Unknown Brothers: I Salute You All!


Two musicians chilling at Oppikoppi

OPPIKOPPI Unknown Brother came and went last weekend and those who attended will look back on those magical days in the dry and barren wilderness and truly know that what they experienced was something special.

Oppikoppi-goers take on the dust and the dirt.


To try and explain what took place on that small farm near Northam would be like trying to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity to a high school chemistry student. He might get the gist of it, but he will never truly know.

Still standing...for now.

The first thing that needs to be said is that South African music is not merely on the right track, but is bundu-bashing an entirely new pathway, one that people from all over the world will be trekking down very soon.

Having a good ol' time.

We have immensely talented people in this country across an array of genres. From Tidal Waves’ reggae mellow vibes to Dan Patlansky’s monstrous electric blues guitar solos to Sibot’s mind-altering electro beats; we have all the bases covered with regards to musical talent.

One of the band's pimped ride.

The next thing and perhaps the element that elevates Oppi to something more than just a music festival is the love that was genuinely shared by everyone. There were smiles all around and the camaraderie in the air was a little more than heart-warming.

Harpdog Frost (Albert Frost and Rob Nagel) leave it all on the stage.

The booze and drugs certainly helped with the chemistry but who cares. Everyone was simply there to have a good time and what happened in the camping area and between acts was just as enjoyable as what happened while the musicians were rocking out.

Tiny bubbles...

There is so much more that could be spoken about in paragraphs that there is not enough space for here: the dust that got under everyone’s skin but didn’t seem to matter; the walking around aimlessly at night in a drunken state trying to find where your tent was; the bumping into random people and instantly becoming friends (Estelle from Pretoria you’re a goddess); the memories that were made and those that have to be made up, it was an absolutely wonderful experience and I loved it all.

All the Unknown brothers of Oppikoppi.

For those of you reading this who were there, you know what I’m talking about. For those of you who weren’t, do yourself a favour; there are few things that are guaranteed to change your life for the better and come August next year, you will have the opportunity to experience one of them all over again.

Keeping warm...


Time to go home...

New Beginnings for Wits Cricket

WITS cricket has appointed Hancke von Rauenstein as the new first team head coach for the upcoming season. A former Free State amateur player and head coach of the Central University of Technology (CUT) in Bloemfontein, Von Rauenstein is looking forward to the challenge of cementing Wits as a top club in the league.

Von Rauenstein is under no illusion as to what the primary goal is for his new team.

“We have to gain promotion into the top division, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “With the number of players available, the facilities on offer and the way the club is run, there is no doubt that Wits should be competing in the top league.”

The previous coach, Aldo van den Berg, was not the only departure from the squad. Senior players including opening batsman Andrew Kirkland and leading leg-spinner Eddie Leie have moved on to other clubs and Wits will now have to rebuild. According to on Rauenstein this will have little effect on his approach.


“All I can do is what I know. My strategy is to help the individual achieve what he wants by creating a first-class environment at practice and on match days. A happy team is a successful team and I want all the players in both the first and second teams to feel comfortable.”


Stability breeds success in any sports team and most sides that go through a rebuilding phase struggle initially. This does not concern all-rounder Thabiso Tshabalala who views this coming season as an exciting time in Wits cricket.


“A new coach means new opportunities for players who were left behind by the old regime. There are hungry players who are eager to prove to themselves and the selectors that they deserve a place in the first team.”


Club captain Mark Waspe agrees and is optimistic that Von Rauenstein can bring Wits back to its former glory.


“We want to win trophies again and be competing in the top league. This is a rebuilding period but that does not have to be a negative. Everyone is starting from scratch again and there will be plenty of competition for places.”


With a proposed 20/20 Varsity Cup in September on the cards, all Wits players will be hoping to impress the new coach and get Wits cricket back to where it belongs.



No surprises at start of Super-Six stage

The Wits Steinhoff Interfaculty rugby season resumed on Wednesday with only the top six teams battling against each other on a cold winter night.

The ‘Super-Six’ stage of the season began with the four lowest ranked teams knocked out after the group stages. Each team will play against each other once, with the top four teams after the five rounds progressing to the semi-finals.

There were no real surprises on the night with the top three teams all registering wins and reconfirming the gulf in class between those at the top and those chasing.

In the first game of the night defending champions and leaders after the group stage, the Humanities Titans, trounced Monash by 38 points to 14.

The Titans have now stretched their unbeaten run to 17 matches and, judging by this performance, look set to defend their title later this year.

Zander Venter in a switch from lock to eighthman ran in a man-of-the-match performance. Returning players added depth to an already talented squad and the Titans will definitely take some beating.

In the most one-sided game of the night the surprise package of the season Medics demolished the only res side left in the competition, Masakhane, by a score of 52 points to 15.

Despite the Masakhane tighthead prop scoring an amazing solo try, the Medics were simply far too physical. Their team spirit on display at the end of the game was perhaps a sign of why they have been so good this season, and they will need that for their remaining matches.

The final game of the night was a close affair between third placed Engineers and fourth placed Commerce. Engineers ran out 7-3 winners on the night in a match that neither side ever looked like winning until the final whistle.

Both teams will expect to progress to the semi-finals but this will be a massive morale boost for the Engineers who will be hoping to regain the title that they lost to the Titans.

The Super-Six resumes next week Wednesday with all teams hoping to cement their spots in the final four.


FIFA Fair(er) Play

It was the beautiful game played out in spectacular fashion by the fairer sex, and those who watched had no doubt that this was a tournament played at the highest level.

When Japan’s Saki Kamagai blasted her penalty past the US’s Hope Solo to give Japan victory, the world applauded. This year’s Women’s World Cup has been a breath of fresh air. Pundits from all over the world were talking about the quality of football on display.

There was no Suarez-like ‘Hand-of-God-part-two’, there were no incidents when the referees were mobbed for calling the games how they saw them, and apart from one incident in the Brazil – USA match, there weren’t any theatrical dives and attempts to con the referee.

If the Women’s World Cup final was on at the same time as the men’s final, it would be a no brainer which one I would watch.

The women’s game is played at a slower pace, the passing is not as accurate, and the goal keeping and defending would have most first division coaches fuming.

But that is not the point. What the point is, is that it was such a change of pace to simply watch a football match for what it was, without having to wait for Ronaldo or Robben to stop writhing on the ground as if they had just been hit with a battle axe.

A recent study by German sports scientist Martin Lomas confirmed that women do indeed play with more integrity than the men do. He found that men spend an average of 30 seconds longer on the ground than women, and that they take almost 12 seconds longer to leave the field when substituted.

Perhaps it is the obscene amount of money that is poured into the men’s game, resulting in inflated egos. One only has to look at Mario Balotelli’s antics against LA Galaxy (seriously, Youtube it). Others might argue that there is less at stake in the woman’s game. I, however, feel that in the women’s game, the true spirit of football shines through much brighter, and sincerely hope that the Ronaldos of the world were watching and taking notes.

BA- uties’ Winning Performance

Titans on Top: The Humanities Titans celebrate with a few cold ones after extending their winning streak to 16 maches.

The faculty of humanities is dominating the sport at Wits with the Human-a-titties cricket side reaching the final of the interfaculty league, and the Humanities Titans rugby side stretching their unbeaten run to 14 matches.

BA students get criticised for their apparent lazy approach to university life, spending more time on the lawns than in the classroom. Many students will point out that BA stands for ‘Bugger All’ but results on the sports fields might silence those critics once and for all.

Unity amongst team members is vital for any successful club. When speaking to Richard Leaver and Kyle Moschini of the Titans rugby side, as well as James Pugin of the Human-a-titties cricket club, team chemistry is the one factor that both members of management encourage the most.

“It’s the bond between the players that is the reason for our success” Moschini said. “We have built a team spirit and ethos from playing together at Wits Rugby Club, and this unity has existed since U-19 level.”

“Most of us went to all boys schools and our characters just seem to gel really well” says Leaver. “We know each others’ lines exceptionally well since we have been playing together for years.”

“We’re a club that keeps Wits rugby players involved in Wits rugby,” added Leaver. “We encourage our boys to stay for a beer after the game, to make some friends. We really are more than just a rugby club and that is evident by our performances.”

The same unity exists in the cricket side and Pugin believes that it is no coincidence that they are now competing for top honours in the final. “It’s really just about having fun, but at the same time trying to win. So far we have played some excellent cricket but have not lost sight of what is important.”

“Maybe the other teams have underestimated men in pink wife beaters” said Pugin, referring to his team’s unorthodox uniform.

The Human-a-tittes are in action tonight at the Bozzoli Oval at 17:30. The Titans are in action every Wednesday night at the Rugby stadium.

Donkey kicking generic boundaries

Music is not something that can be placed in a box. It was never meant to be labelled or categorized, but rather to be enjoyed and experienced. Music, especially in the main stream, tries to be too generic and often loses something on an emotional level as a result. That is why Donkey, a band of Wits musicians and lecturers, is so refreshing.

Consisting of Janus van der Merwe on saxophone, Roger Hobbs on bass, Johnathan Crossley on guitar and Justin Badenhorst behind the drums, this band views the boundaries that separate genres as a challenge.

“We’re not a jazz band, nor are we a hip-hop band, or a rock band, or a drum and bass band,” explains Van der Merwe. “We incorporate all elements in our music, but first and foremost we’re an improve band, an experimental band.”

According to Badenhorst, improvisation doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no rules or structure. What it does mean however is that there is more freedom when expressing their music.

“There are more solos, more spontaneity,” Badenhorst says. “We just go with it, the same way someone opening up about their emotions without too much thought would. We use our instruments to portray what we are feeling at that particular time, and when one member solos, the others respond and support him. It works the same way as a spontaneous conversation that has emotion.”

However, this spontaneity and merging of genres can alienate the audience and can often lead to a band developing a taste that has to be acquired. This suits the band just fine.

“People who listen to our music, and any other band that is trying to push the boundaries is reaching a level that requires thought,” says Badenhorst. “We try and challenge the audience and shake their foundations. Our aim is to create a connection that can get lost sometimes.”

This is art for art’s sake.

Donkey are performing tonight (20 May) at Tanz Café in Fourwyas alongside Isochronos and Wrestlerish.